Health

Health Officials Debate Whether To Tell Gay Men To Cut Back On Sex Due To Monkeypox

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Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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Public health officials, particularly in heavily-blue jurisdictions, are struggling to decide whether or not to tell gay men to have less sex to avoid monkeypox.

Health officials in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and other major cities are resisting calls to warn gay men to have less sex because they are wary of contributing to anti-LGBT stigma during the ongoing monkeypox outbreak, according to The Washington Post. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned men who have sex with men to limit their number of partners to reduce risk from the virus, but U.S. health officials have so far not followed suit.

“If people want to have sex, they are going to have sex,” Democratic California State Sen. Scott Weiner told the Post. “I know people who normally go to sex parties who will not. People will make their own decisions about their own risk levels.” (RELATED: Area Man Shocked To Have Contracted Monkeypox After 20-Man Birthday Orgy)

San Francisco Public Health Officer Susan Philip told the Post that decades of fighting HIV have taught officials that preaching abstinence doesn’t work and creates distrust in the community. Zandt Bryan, sexual health and prevention program manager for the state of Washington, said it’s unfair to place the onus on individuals to change their behavior to avoid the virus.

One health official who did preach abstinence was Don Weiss, director of surveillance for New York City’s Bureau of Communicable Disease. Weiss wrote to colleagues in June that “we cannot vaccinate our way out of this” and that he knows he sounds “like a bible thumping preacher,” but the only way out was to prevent exposure.

“This disease is entirely preventable had we the courage to send out prevention messages,” Weiss wrote in another email which he later published on his website. “We seem paralyzed by the fear of stigmatizing this disease while we totally ignore the epidemiology.”

Weiss was eventually reassigned, the Post noted. (RELATED: Dear Kay: Should I Go To My Planned Gay Orgy This Weekend?)

The epidemiology is clear. The WHO, European health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have all shared data showing that the overwhelming majority of monkeypox cases are occurring in men who have sex with men. The WHO declared an emergency over monkeypox in July, and the Biden administration did the same Thursday.

But for now, the CDC’s monkeypox guidance for safe sex only applies to individuals who have contracted or have been exposed directly to the virus, and doesn’t encourage widespread limitation of partners within the LGBT community.